In October 2016, Los Angeles City Council approved an ambitious master plan for Paramount Pictures, which will guide and implement improvements to its 62-acre studio lot over a period of twenty-five years. The project will include both new construction on the site, as well as the rehabiliation of existing historic buildings and structures.
The project site contains two potential historic districts: the Paramount Pictures Historic District and the RKO Studios Historic District. Both have been determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places for their associations with the early film industry.
In addition, the 1935 KCAL Building at 5515 Melrose Avenue has been identified as eligible for local, state, and national designation.
As originally proposed, the project would demolish eighteen contributing buildings in the Paramount Pictures Historic District and thirteen contributing buildings in the RKO Historic District. The districts would remain sixty-two percent and seventy percent intact, respectively.
While the KCAL Building would be retained and rehabilitated, the project would construct a new building of up to fifteen stories (or 240 feet in height) directly behind the historic structure.
In order to ensure that the project does not have an adverse impact on cultural resources, Paramount established a Historic Resources Preservation Plan, which will be integrated into the new Paramount Pictures Specific Plan.
The Conservancy submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which was released in September 2015. The City of Los Angeles published the Final EIR in April 2016, and public hearings took place over the summer.
In order to implement the proposed Paramount Pictures Master Plan, the City adopted the Paramount Pictures Specific Plan to guide new construction and rehabilitation for a period of twenty-five years.
The proposed Specific Plan would allow for the construction of approximately 1,900,000 square feet of new stage, production, office, and retail uses. Approximately 500,000 square feet of existing floor area would be removed.
The project is designed to support and enhance Paramount's contributions to the entertainment industry through sensitive infill construction and the maintenance of the site's historic resources.
Comprised of two highly intact historic studio lots, Paramount's campus played a critical role in the development of the motion picture industry in Los Angeles, as well as the city's broader economic and cultural development. The site includes historic resources spanning the industry's twentieth century evolution, including the silent film era, the advent of sound, and the expansion of television and other media.
The Conservancy engaged in ongoing conversations with Paramount Pictures and the project team, and we greatly value the thoughtful approach to integrating the site's collection of historic resources into the master plan. We submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in October 2015.
While we believe that a number of improvements were made to the master plan over the course of our discussions, we had outstanding questions and concerns over the impact of the plan on the two potential historic districts and the individually-eligible KCAL Building.
In particular, we recommended: 1) the preparation of detailed standards to guide sensitive new construction; 2) the adoption of a clear design review process with the Office of Historic Resources pertaining to work that may impact historic resources; and 3) the incorporation of an additional mitigation measure to require local designation of identified historic resources.